I’ve gone zero waste with my entire life and if you care about the planet, you really should too
Over Christmas last year, I was shocked to see just how many bin bags of waste my family and I produced, mostly of ripped wrapping paper and Christmas leftovers. I wasn’t about to shove my hand in and rescue recyclables and make bubble and squeak from the wasted food, but it did force me to make the decision to work towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
I first became conscious of the zero-waste movement after discovering that in 2016, the UK generated 222.9 million tonnes of waste, with 27 million tonnes being household waste. Less than half of household waste is recycled, with the rest being shipped abroad or sent to landfill. On a personal level, I noticed I was producing a 12-litre bin bag of rubbish a week and contributing a tiny amount to recycling.
To counteract my food waste I started by buying fresh produce from local vendors rather than pre-packaged produce at the supermarket. I also swapped my regular hair and skincare products for naked products that do not come in any kind of packaging but can be stored in metal containers. Most of these products came from companies such as LUSH, which uses organic materials and recyclable pots, as well as offering naked products.
Not only have I reduced the number of shampoo bottles I get through but also reduced my food waste by a bin-full. By buying locally sourced foods I’ve been able to purchase exactly what I need when I need it, rather than buying more produce than I require because my options are limited to a large plastic bag.
Any food waste I do produce, I either add to my outside compost bin or use in recipes such as soups, stocks or stews.
I now only shop at places that offer food products without any packaging whatsoever. I have a number of local bulk stores I can buy dry goods from in pre-purchased containers and inexpensive muslin clothes. Some stores are even offering wet goods, like milk in glass jars and freshly squeezed orange juice, all at affordable prices.
Zero waste extends outside of food and cosmetics though, it also extends to homeware goods like biodegradable toilet paper and cleaning liquids. Say goodbye to the branded products your parent’s use and say hello to the inexpensive and powerful cleaning product of vinegar. Only 55p!
When I first approached zero waste I thought it was going to be an expensive lifestyle, but I’ve actually found it’s the opposite. After buying the initial pricier materials, like organic hair products and containers for food, I’ve actually spent less money than ever on all of my household goods, and it’s shows! Because of my reduced spending I’ve been able to start saving for a mortgage – in my early twenties!